A river status board is used at Reading Canoe Club to show club members the status of the river as seen by club coaches. It is loosely based on the National Rivers Authority river status web site, but updated by local conditions and knowledge, and will include factors like wind chill and water temperature. The NRA river status for the Thames at Reading can be found on the Environment Agency website.
The River Thames is not generally considered to be a fast flowing river and is usually classified as ‘sheltered water’. However, when the river is in spate, it not classified as ‘sheltered water’ and extra care is needed to avoid capsize or other problems. Care is especially needed near the tops and bottoms of islands, bridges and near weirs.
These faster conditions tend to occur in the colder months between the end of October and the end of March, and it is the combination of the cold wintery weather, cold water and the fast flow that can make the river much more dangerous than in summer.
When the green board is up the river is at its safest. The weather is probably mild or warm and the flow slow. It is the time that novices are least at risk. Novices (those that race in Divisions 7 – 9) should always wear buoyancy aids.
The amber board will be put up when the river starts to flow more and or the weather conditions deteriorate. When the amber board is up, club boats may still be used, but club sessions may be cancelled. Those using club boats must paddle in a group of no less than three boats; this is also a recommendation for those using their own boats. Paddling at night is not recommended. Buoyancy aids are recommended to be worn by all paddlers especially novices. RCC Coaches have the right, and might recommend individuals not to paddle.
The red board will be put up when the river and or the weather conditions deteriorate further, as determined by the senior club coaches. Club boats are only to be used under supervision by an RCC approved coach and minimum group sizes apply. No paddler, regardless of ability should paddle solo. Club sessions may be cancelled. All paddlers should be wearing buoyancy aids regardless of ability. Paddling at night is not recommended. RCC Coaches have the right, and might tell individuals not to paddle.